WSC Receives Federal Grant for Alcohol Prevention Program
Nov. 19, 2009 -- Western State College of Colorado is bolstering its alcohol prevention and awareness efforts thanks to a nearly $244,000 federal grant through the Prevent High Risk Drinking or Violent Behavior Among College Students program.
Funded by the Department of Education, the grant provides the college with $122,853 this year and $121,053 the following year for Western’s Resist Alcohol Program (WRAP). The program utilizes a comprehensive approach to combat high-risk drinking (five or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting) through education, alternative programming, and judicial policies and sanctions. The grant funds 100 percent of the program.
Western will use the grant money to establish an alcohol prevention office in the new College Center, which will implement the initiatives under WRAP. The office will have a full-time coordinator to develop programming and a part-time judicial coordinator who will work with Residence Life and Student Affairs to review and develop campus alcohol policies and assist in the consistent enforcement of sanctions. Sociology professor Greg Haase is the project director who is responsible for the implementation of all components of the grant, especially the hiring of staff who will deliver the program.
A portion of the money is allocated for weekly late-night activities such as concerts, movies, and open mic events.
Caroline Mitchell, associate professor of sociology, will serve as the program evaluator to monitor its effectiveness. She will use online tools to assess students’ drinking patterns, perceptions and knowledge of the risks associated with binge drinking. According to Mitchell, similar programs have proven successful in reducing binge drinking on college campuses nationwide.
Beyond changing students’ drinking behaviors, Mitchell hopes that the program will reverse what has become a “social norm” on college campuses.
“Any skill we can teach or alternative program that we can provide may help change a cultural concept among college students that binge drinking is acceptable behavior,” Mitchell remarked. “If we can change that perception here on campus and reduce high-risk drinking behavior, then we will be successful.”
Western is the only college in Colorado to receive the competitive grant, which was awarded to 23 higher education institutions this year.
“A lot of hard work went into getting this grant,” said Mitchell, who worked with Haase to develop the program. “We hope that the alternative programming this grant funds along with the educational component provided will benefit Western State College and the Gunnison community.”